Monterey Bay’s Hidden Golf Courses

It’s easy in Monterey Bay, California, to get wound up in the great Robert Trent Jones courses such as Pebble Beach and the course constructors favorite Pasatiempo, which most average golfers would love to play, but may lack either the money or wherewithal to do so. If your like myself and all the millions that play in the high eighties to nineties, bouncing around courses like pin balls, then your going to love the five courses that hide behind the rest on the Monterey Bay.

The first course, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. course, constructed back in 19xx, is what many golfers have called, by far, the best deal in golf in Northern California. The course itself lies not far from its slightly larger and longer neighbors, Spanish Bay, Spyglass and Pebble Beach. It’s located back from the sea, hosting along with its neighbors the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. It offers many fun and challenging holes for any golfer, no matter what your handicap. One of the most winning aspects of the course is that NCGA (Northern California Golf Association) members get quite a large discount on green fees. A member can play for only $64 on the weekend, instead of the normal fee of $160. On the weekdays it gets even better for NCGA members who only need to pay $52 instead of the normal $130. But even if your not an NCGA member put this golf course on you list when visiting the Monterey Bay.

In the middle of the bay sits two 18 hole courses, which, for the most part, have been overlooked or driven past, but still offer allot of good competitive golf with only a small amount of weight being lifted from your wallet. Both courses surround Watsonville, with Spring Meadows behind and North of the city and Pajaro just south of the city. They’re both easily accessible from either Monterey or Santa Cruz.

Parajo’s course, constructed back in the twenties, is a short course with par four’s and five’s that are reachable by the 25-handicap player. The toughness of the course is shown in how the courses greens play: slippery. It can be hard to keep the ball from rolling off when either chipping or putting onto the greens. It’s a safe bet that they mow everyday, if not twice. As far as price is concerned it’s one of the best deals on the bay with a charge of only $65 on weekends and $45 on weekdays. It also has a one o’clock evening play start where golfers can enjoy more saving and pay only $32. It’s located a few miles off Highway 1 on Salinas Valley Road. All a golfer needs to do is either take a right turn, if coming from Monterey or a left, if coming from Santa Cruz and drive a mile or so down to the course that is on the right.

The second of the Watsonville areas golf courses is aptly named Spring Meadows, for its spring and its green grass. From the south your going to want to make exit at Green Valley Rd. while golfers coming from the north will want to get off at the Watsonville exit and make an immediate left onto Green Valley Rd. From there, coming from either direction, all that’s left to do is take a right on Casserly Rd. and go down a few miles. The course will be on your left. As you’ll notice from the drive into the course to the clubhouse, the course is nicely laid out with a few hills to climb and play from. Over the entire course there are only a few hills making it both fun and a good amount of exercise for those who still walk. The course offers down sloping shots, some tight uphill shots and should prove a challenge for any golfer. The cost at $33 for weekends (f-sun) and $30 for weekdays (m-th) makes it another great Monterey Bay deal. The one thing that should be mentioned is to bring water. It can be a little hot.

A course, which seems to be the most weather friendly of all the courses mentioned; mainly because it’s the closest to the ocean is not far off highway 1. To find the course, all your going to need to do is take the Rio Del Mar exit, a left, if your coming from Monterey, or a right, if your coming from Santa Cruz, head up Rio Del Mar Drive a block and make sure to stay on the left, because your going to want to get off Rio Del Mar and onto Club House Drive. After your through the stop sign it’s only two miles to the course, which is on your right, tucked behind a neighborhood of some of the luckiest houses south of Santa Cruz. The course is always well managed and an all around fun play. The short par fours leave an average golfer looking at more greens in regulation than they will have at some of the larger courses, but don’t be fooled; the greens are hard and tough, making them difficult to stay on from 150 to 200 yards. Lucky for most golfers the designers put in bunkers in the back of the greens, keeping your ball from drifting to far off any off the greens. A weekend round is only $70; a round on Friday is $55; and rounds during the weekdays (m-th) are only $45.

One of the most challenging of the five courses mentioned is the county course in Santa Cruz; Delaveaga, named after Jose Vicente de Laveaga, a man who donated the land that he’d perchased back in 1887, for his love of the outdoors. The course sits on the hill that Mr. De Laveaga purchased right behind Santa Cruz. It’s a challenging course that is currently being remodeled and as of last year was rated one of the hardest county courses in all of California. The remodel, set to be done in June 2005, will include all new cart paths, new greens on 1, 5, and 18, along with remodeled t-boxes. The score will change however from a 72 to a 70, making the play faster and the course funner and more exciting to play. To play on the weekends it’s only $65, $45 with a county card or NCGA card and only $45 on the weekdays, leaving county card members along with NCGA members to pay only $32. If your driving from the south all you need to do is get off on the Morrisey exit, make a quik right on Pacheco, a left on Delaveaga and then a right on Upper Park Rd. If your coming from the north you’ll need to exit at Fairmont, take a right on Fairmont, a right on N. Branciforte Ave. and then a left onto Upper Park Rd. The course is just a mile or so up.

If your in the mood for a shorter course that’s surrounded in the Monterey’s famous redwood trees and don’t mind a little driving then your going to like what Boulder Creek Golf Course has to offer. It’s set right in the middle of redwood trees, a beautiful sight on a nice sunny day. The course has a lot of par three’s and par is only 64, so it’s great for all ages, which means you can bring the kids or maybe just your father who can’t get around a long course to well. The course can be driven to by exiting on Mt. Hermon Rd. off of Highway 17, driving down to Felton and making a right on Graham hill, then a quick right onto Highway 9 and down to Boulder Creek where you’ll want to make a left on Big Basin Rd. The course is up a few miles and on the right. The whole drive may take you a little while (maybe a half an hour or more), but the course is well worth the wait. The costs are low with rounds for weekdays (m-th) only costing $22; Fridays a little more costing $26, and the weekend rates are fair at $40.

All and all the Monterey Bay’s hidden courses are fun, exciting, and fairly priced. The driving from highway 1 is never over ten minutes and the courses themselves offer all the competition, greens, fairways, and bunkers an average golfer can handle. So if your visiting the area, or are already a resident make sure to check one or all of them out. See you on the tee.

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